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Currently, the term “healing” is gaining a lot of popularity. As an alternative wellness therapist, certified coach, herbalist, Reiki healer, and trauma specialist, I hear this word a lot.
I often get questions regarding how a person begins their healing journey. Many people feel they are being told “to heal” but not being given tangible steps regarding what that looks like. I think this is a valid concern and critique of the healing movement, as we are best able to excel when we are given the proper tools to do so. Therefore, it’s important to have a working definition of “healing” before we can move forward and try to embody what healing looks like to us.
I define healing as attaining balance between spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical wellness. I then believe it is up to each person to define what healing looks like to them at this specific stage in their journey. However, a first step that can be helpful to everyone’s journey is learning to practice self-empathy.
Self-empathy is the ability to see, affirm, and love the humanity in oneself. It involves being gentle, kind, compassionate, and balanced in our pursuit and understanding of ourselves.
Seeing, affirming, and loving the humanity in yourself means giving yourself the opportunity to fully value and embody your experiences. When you see, love, and value your humanness, you allow yourself to make mistakes. Your inner voice is balanced and loving. You see your holistic beauty on “good” and “bad” days.
An example of self-empathy would include being gracious to oneself regarding past experiences one cannot change. Another example would be thinking of yourself as a person who is learning and growing regarding past relationship choices or rerouted goals, as opposed to denigrating yourself for your learning process.
An additional example of self-empathy would be communicating kindly with and speaking highly of yourself. Self-empathy can be difficult to practice in a society that teaches you to ignore your needs and only feel as worthy as what we produce or accomplish.
However, here are three reasons why it is essential to your healing journey:
Healing trauma is a big part of our wellness and healing journeys. Research shows that trauma can cause mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health concerns. When you try to process trauma without self-empathy, it can trigger you and impede your healing process.
Lack of self-empathy can cause you to blame yourself for your experiences, judge your inner child, and hold energy from negative experiences in your body. When you navigate with self-empathy, you allow parts of yourself to feel sad, hurt, or angry about traumatic experiences without judging yourself. You allow the energy from those experiences to be released without harboring them due to guilt and self-blame. Self-empathy allows you to move forward with a level of self-understanding that will serve you on the next part of your journey.
The version of yourself that you see when you are lacking self-empathy is not your most authentic self. The version of you that arises when you are lacking self-empathy is often fighting unspoken battles with feelings of insecurity, unworthiness, and being unsafe in one’s own body. When you are in a hyper-critical or self-deprecating state, it can trigger your fight-or-flight response. This causes you to tap into biological mechanisms to survive. Your ability to think clearly and intentionally then diminishes.
If you are unable to tap into your ability to think clearly and intentionally, then you are surviving, not thriving. You are able to best learn yourself when you can experience yourself outside of survival mechanisms. While these mechanisms are one part of your being, they can stop you from experiencing your other parts.
When we are in survival mode, we cannot process emotions, learn from experiences, and grow in healthy ways. Instead, our bodies are focused on surviving the perceived threats in the here and now. When you practice self-empathy, you create a safe space for you to feel your feelings and process your experiences. You allow opportunity to usher in the unknown or unfamiliar parts of yourself that are desiring to be seen and heard. You usher in parts of yourself that were hidden to protect you.
When you create space for these parts, you can grow, heal, and flourish. You can then allow yourself to holistically evolve because you have awareness of all the complex parts of you, and can navigate them with gentleness, kindness, and compassion.
If you lack self-empathy, it can impact the way you experience relationships. Lack of self-empathy can lead to over-identifying with the concerns of others, unhealthy boundaries, and unbalanced relationships. Lack of self-empathy can also show up as being overly judgmental in relationships. This can impede your ability to create relationships that are lasting and healthy.
However, when you practice self-empathy, you allow room for a variety of experiences, belief systems, and perspectives. You will also attract people who are striving to be their best selves because you are embodying that energy yourself. When people feel that they are allowed to be themselves around you, it creates opportunities for deeper, more fulfilling relationships.
Healthy people want relationships with other healthy people. When you exude and embody self-empathy, you allow room to be your authentic self and create a safe space for others to be their authentic selves as well.
Overall, self-empathy is an important part of our healing journeys. It allows us to welcome our most authentic self with kindness, gentleness, and love. It helps us to holistically heal trauma, learn about ourselves, and build healthy relationships.
Self-empathy also allows us to pay homage to what was, welcome what is, and usher in what will be. Self-empathy is one of the highest ways we express self-love. Self-love allows us to heal and carry that love to others. And we deserve love in all forms. Asé.
Support self-empathy with these 25 affirmations for self-love.
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